Andrew Fairlie, Scotland's only two-Michelin-starred chef, has been named the most powerful and influential person in the Scottish hospitality industry in Caterer and Hotelkeeper's inaugural Hot Scots Power 40.
Run in association with the organisers of ScotHot, the premier exhibition for Scottish hospitality and tourism which celebrates its 40th anniversary next month, the list highlights the 40 movers and shakers who are having the biggest impact on the industry in Scotland, as well passionately flying the flag for their country further afield.
Fairlie, who runs his eponymous restaurant at the prestigious Gleneagles hotel in Perthshire, beat restaurateur James Thomson and Michelin-starred chef Martin Wishart to top the Hot Scots Power 40, which was voted for by a panel of industry experts based in Scotland.
The only chef to hold two Michelin stars in Scotland for eight consecutive years, Fairlie's restaurant was last year named the best in the UK by the Sunday Times Food List, which is based solely on customer feedback. He has won numerous other awards, including the Newcomer Catey, HIT Scotland Industry Award, Scottish Chef of the Year and AA Chefs' Chef of the Year.
Fairlie is hugely committed to putting Scottish food and drink on the world map and in addition to showcasing the best produce on his menus, he also recently starred in a Scottish Government campaign called "Scotland the Land of Food and Drink". There are few chefs who wave the flag for Scotland as much as Fairlie, who is the only hospitality operator to have been named an ambassador for the Yes Campaign for Scotland to become an independent country.
Commenting on his award, Fairlie said he was absolutely delighted. "I'm very very humbled to be voted Top Scot especially when I look at the list of people included, lots of whom I greatly admire and use as a benchmark both personally and as mentors of how to run a successful business," he said. "The award is made all the more special as it is voted for by my peers and it reinforces the message I try to convey with our younger team members that hard work, consistency and respect for others is a recipe for success."
He added: "The hospitality industry in Scotland is going through a really positive change at the moment and we have some of the brightest young talent coming through in all sectors of the industry. Thanks mainly to the work put in by most of the people on this list who have been working tirelessly both in their own businesses and the enormous generosity of spirit shown in encouraging youngsters to join the best industry in the world."
In second place is Edinburgh restaurateur James Thomson, one of Scotland's best-known operators, with an envied and distinctive portfolio of eateries, guest suites and, in recent years, a five-star luxury hotel. Thomson has been a fixture on the Edinburgh hospitality scene for 30 years since becoming Scotland's youngest licensee when he opened the Witchery by the Castle in 1979 aged 20. His empire, which now employs more than 250 staff, today encompasses the Witchery, the Secret Garden and Tower restaurants, the seven Witchery Suites, and the five-star Prestonfield House hotel which houses the Rhubarb restaurant.
Double-Michelin-starred chef Martin Wishart ranks in third place, having widely been credited as an operator whose star is on the rise. His eponymous restaurant in Leith, which won the first Michelin star in the Scottish capital in 2001, has won numerous other accolades including four AA rosettes and has been named the UK's favourite restaurant by Toptable for two consecutive years.
In addition, Wishart also runs a second eponymous restaurant at Cameron House hotel in Loch Lomond, which won a Michelin star in 2012, as well as a cookery school and French brasserie the Honours, which he is hoping to roll out across Scotland and England.
In fourth place is Peter Lederer, managing director at the five-star Gleneagles resort in Pertshire, where he first started as general manager in 1984. He has developed the property into one of the leading hotels in the world, which next year will host the biggest international golfing event, the Ryder Cup. But it's beyond the hotel where Lederer has arguably the most influence, having held some of the most high-profile roles in Scottish hospitality and becoming an international champion of the industry.
Completing the top five of the Hot Scots Power 40 is Pete Irvine, managing director at Unique Events, which produces most of the main pubi events in and around Edinburgh and throughout Scotland. He has channelled his creative talents into making Scotland a vibrant, exciting destination as well as highlighting its natural beauty and the best of its hospitality.
The list in full
- Andrew Fairlie, Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles
- James Thomson, the Witchery by the Castle
- Martin Wishart, Restaurant Martin Wishart, Edinburgh
- Peter Lederer, Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Perthshire
- Pete Irvine, Unique Events, Scotland the Best
- Tom Kitchin, the Kitchin
- Ken McCulloch, McCulloch Unique Hotels
- Stefan King, G1 Group
- James Watt & Martin Dickie, BrewDog
- Nick Nairn, Nairn's Cook School
- David Wither, Montpeliers
- Peter Taylor, Town House Collection
- Stephen Leckie and John Jennett, Crieff Hydro hotel
- Roy Brett, Ondine, Edinburgh
- Norman Springford, Apex Hotels
- Stephen Carter, Cameron House on Loch Lomond
- Geoffrey Smeddle, the Peat Inn, Cupar, Fife
- Donald Macdonald, Macdonald Hotels
- Shirley Spear, the Three Chimneys, Isle of Skye
- Trevor Garden, Sodexo
- Victor and Carina Contini, Centotre, the Scottish Café, Edinburgh
- Chris Robinson and Mark Miller, Heritage Portfolio
- Willie Pike, consultant chef
- Debbie Taylor, Kohler Co
- Graham Box, Sodexo Scotland
- Stephen Frost, Sodexo
- Hans Rissmann, Edinburgh International Conference Centre
- Tom Lewis, Monachyle Mhor
- Seumas MacInnes, Café Gandolfi
- Lady Claire Macdonald
- Jeff Bland, the Balmoral, Edinburgh
- Calum Ross, Loch Melfort Hotel, by Oban
- Alan Hill, Gleneagles, Auchterarder
- Kevin MacGillvray, Simpsinns
- Russell Imrie, Queensferry Hotels
- Neil Wells, Lochs & Glens Holidays
- Sanjay Majhu, Ashoka
- Mario Gizzi and Tony Conetta, Di Maggio's Group
- Beppo Buchanan-Smith, Isle of Eriska Hotel
- Neil Forbes, Café St Honoré, Edinburgh
Each nomination was judged on five criteria - scale and scope; power and influence; financial success; innovation; and longevity - by a panel of analysts, industry experts and former operators, all of whom are based in Scotland.